Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Remember, No Matter What You're Gonna Be Okay

Anyone who suffers from anxiety will know it is immensely frustrating.  You get frustrated at yourself because it has such a debilitating effect on your life and because others people who don't suffer from it just don't understand.  There are lots of resources out there to help including therapy and self-help books.  But I wanted to recommend Paul Dooley's podcasts (The Anxiety Guru Show) which are available on iTunes and via his website:

Paul is a qualified therapist and runs his own practice in San Diego.  However, he far more importantly knows exactly what anxiety is like as he suffers from it himself so has first hand knowledge of the effects and the different therapies/tools that assist in controlling anxiety.

Paul's podcasts vary in length and cover all aspects of anxiety including how to cope at work, in relationships, socially etc using straightforward language not psychobabble.  Paul's podcasts are about practical solutions and advice.  Paul does occasionally talk about his therapy practice and he does have ebooks for sale on his website but he doesn't force these on you.  Paul's podcasts are about helping others.

He often makes humorous comments and little asides off the mic which have me chuckling.  It helps alleviate the seriousness of the subject but does not in anyway undermine the information he is conveying.  He helps boost your confidence and gives you hope that recovery is possible if you are willing to put the work in.

"Remember no matter what you're gonna be okay."

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Example of How Anxiety Affects Me

So this is me - my tentative Friday afternoon/evening arrangements - having to leave work early to catch a train then a bus to the dentist.  Then as I want to go and see Star Trek: Beyond afterwards locally I have to get a bus back into town, have a bite to eat beforehand and then get a bus home afterwards.  

So a little bit complicated but I am not planning a trip to Mongolia for goodness sake so why am I getting anxious and have butterflies.  I feel ridiculous but I find writing things down - the order of events focuses me a little.  And yes I'm anxious but like Paul Dooley (www.anxietyguru.net)* says:

"The better you tolerate the unknown the better you deal with anxiety - manage not knowing - roll with it".

"Stay in the moment.  Day by day.  It won't feel so overwhelming.  Eventually it will subside."


UPDATE (9/8/2016 - 07:30)

I realise I get worried about pressure of deadlines so being on time for appointments stresses me out.  Paul Dooley is right it's about control - I don't have control over the train so I worry I will be late (hey this is Southeastern we are talking about!).  But be organised leave yourself plenty of time.

Also I hate telling people in advance what I'm doing in case I either change my mind and bottle or something goes wrong.  But this time I made a point of telling people what I was doing and everything went fine I made the appointments with plenty of time to spare and went to see the movie which was great by the way.

I also went to a march at the weekend through Hythe never done that before it was for a collective protest to Save Princes Parade (see photo), against the lorry park and Otterpool.  I'm really pleased I went in fact very proud of myself.

*Note: Paul Dooley runs a website www.anxietyguru.net and a podcast - I will do a separate posting about him.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

New Star Trek Series

I was very excited to hear at the beginning of the year that CBS were to broadcast a new Star Trek series on TV.  Finally Star Trek back where it belongs.  The films are okay but I'm not a fan of the timeline they have chosen to use including the destruction of Vulcan nor recasting the iconic characters from the original series though I have seen them.

However, this news inspired me to watch Star Trek in chronological order so I have started with the Enterprise series and am currently in mid Season 2.  I realise there are whole sections of Star Trek I have missed as I started watching in the Deep Space Nine era which my Dad got me into and then I continued with Voyager which was my favourite.  But I missed the Next Generation series altogether so I have only seen odd clips and it has been many years since I've watched the Original series.

It has been fun watching Enterprise it is far better than I remember it, what I enjoy is seeing the crew using and inventing for the first time many of the iconic elements that make Star Trek what it is today. I also love Porthos, Capt Archer's sweet beagle, and I must also be one of the few people who like the theme song by Russell Watson.

I heard today that the new series will be broadcast here in the UK via Netflix I've put off subscribing to an on demand service before as I have so many shows on DVD and terrestrial TV that I watch already.  But it seems I will have to cave in and sign up.  What a dilemma!

Monday, June 27, 2016

EU Referendum Result

Posting this today* waking up to the result of the EU Referendum the UK having voted to leave the EU. I'm in shock am shaking and have butterflies I just didn't expect it, was so convinced that the Remain would win but thought it would be a close run thing.

Initial reaction by the markets has been inevitably volatile but hope they settle down soon.  It is certainly going to be as a friend put it "an interesting year".

*Note wrote this on Friday, 24 June 2016 day after EU Referendum


Been a few days since the shock out vote, and although expected people's disappointment what is upsetting is the vitriol from so many.  And the calls for a second referendum are puzzling that is not how democracy works you don't keep voting until you get the result you want.

I can say this whole process has ignited my interest in politics so will be keeping a close eye on what happens in the coming months. Already Jeremy Corbyn's leadership is under threat with mass resignations from his cabinet. I know for sure I will NEVER vote Labour while he is leader.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Post CBT Therapy

I did 4 sessions of CBT Therapy before I felt that we were now chewing the cabbages in a sense of going over the same ground in the sessions and that now it was up to me to move forward.  One important point I took with me and i know to be true the more you do something the easier it is each time.

It is like learning any new skill it takes practice.

I have taken some small steps, I joined a book club which takes place at lunchtime at a library near my workplace, I love to read and have been posting my book reviews on GoodReads for the last couple of years.  It is a small group everyone's very friendly and it is fun to hear other people's opinions and if they share the same as your's and if their perspective is different to see the book from varying angles. Generally the group meets for around 40 mins once a month.  If you want to read my book reviews there is a link on the right hand side to my GoodReads page.

I have also been encouraged by a friend and colleague at work to take out a membership to the Culture Seerkers website http://www.meetup.com/London_Cultureseekers/ 

Robert who runs the Group arranges meet ups for various events throughout the year, every month there are coffee mornings, evening meals, days out to cultural events, art galleries, historical houses, walks, etc.  You can go along to a couple of events just to see whether you like it and then the membership is £12 a year and for that you get discounts etc.  

I have been along to two events so far once to visit Charles Dickens House and the second for a treasure hunt around Clerkenwell which was good fun.  Everyone was very friendly many people are regulars afterwards you can congregate at a designated pub.

I'm still a work in progress!

Friday, March 04, 2016

CBT Therapy

I had my first CBT Therapy session on Monday 29 February 2016 with Natalia.  I had to wait about 3 months which I realise is very good considering the waiting lists for mental health support on the NHS these days.

I had my usual self-doubts beforehand - I've not had any 'real' social anxiety issues since before Christmas so maybe I should cancel and let someone else have the slot who needs it more than me.

But then it occurs to me that that's because I've not been anywhere or done anything outside of my comfort zone just going to work and home again.  My one social outing was to visit my friend Audrey at her home in Sittingbourne and who I now feel comfortable with it only took me 6.5 years to get there.  So I gave myself a talking to and said lets do it I know she'll be nice as therapists are trained to put people at their ease (and she was).

To start with we had a general chat about matters that bother me which basically stems from my social anxiety as general day to day work is okay.  She told me I should record things that go through my mind when I'm anxious.  She advised me to write a list, a hierarchy from easiest to hardest of goals or things I want to do that I currently find hard to do. And to start to implement mini-dares for myself such as going somewhere I wouldn't normally go as I find travelling especially on holiday or going on weekends away often induces my anxiety.  Natalia explained that if you set yourself smaller achievable goals but spread them out, when you eventually deal with a larger one, you realise that the larger event is really only a series of smaller ones strung together and it becomes easier to manage.

She also mentioned it was important to incorporate exercise, getting enough sleep and eating healthily.

It may seem obvious to most people but when your anxious or get yourself in a rut it is difficult to get out of bad habits and implement basic changes in your life.

Anyway she gave me lots to think about.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Anxiety Update

I kept my appointment with my GP, he recommended:

(1) I have some blood tests just to make sure I don't have an overactive thyroid, I find this extremely unlikely as I have had regular medical checkups through work and I would have thought this would have been picked up, however, I'm not a doctor so I went along to my local hospital and had the blood tests just to be sure.

(2) He also gave me a list of clinics that offer counselling services in Kent that are offered by the NHS and to look through them to see which one would suit me best.  

My GP also told me to make an appointment to see him again in a month's time.

Meanwhile I picked Insight Healthcare who have offices in Ashford, they offer therapy specifically for those with anxiety.  I was pleased to see they provide evening and weekend appointments.  But unfortunately due to a recent shakeup with mental health services within the NHS they were only providing appointments in working hours Monday to Friday.  However, I spoke to a very nice woman on the phone who asked me a few questions.  She made an appointment for me on 3 December to have a mental health assessment with a counsellor which would be conducted on the telephone and sent me a questionnaire to fill in beforehand.

Daft I know but no surprise that I was anxious about talking about my anxiety! But the counsellor Matthew was easy to talk to once I got going I tried to be as frank and honest as I could the call lasted about 30 minutes.  He asked me about specific events that trigger my anxiety, my general state of my mental health, and we went through the questionnaire which I had filled out prior to speaking to him. At the end he told me the clinic would be in touch when they had a counsellor free to treat me.

UPDATE: I saw my GP again just before Christmas and I gave him an update on my progress with contacting the clinic and he gave me the results of my blood tests which were all clear and said I was in excellent health which was good to hear.

As of today I am still waiting to hear but I knew it would be about 4-6 weeks before I was likely to hear from the clinic.